Commonwealth tackles cyber-security dilemma


PM Malcolm Turnbull strengthens ties with US on cyber-security. Australia “almost defenceless” against cyber-attack, warns security expert.

Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull has opened up a “security dialogue” with the US as part of moves to tackle potential cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure or information assets.

This latest initiative, unveiled during the PM’s January visit to Washington, underlines concerns that government, business or educational networks are increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks in an inter-conected economy.

The US-Australia dialogue is being jointly convened by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the US Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

This collaboration engages senior representatives from both countries’ business, academic and government sectors. They will discuss common cyber-threats, promote cyber-security innovation, and shape new business opportunities.

The global cyber-security market is currently valued at US$71 billion and is growing at around 8 per cent a year.

The latest cyber-alliance clarifies how the two nations will respond to cyber-attacks, while building joint cyber-protection capabilities. This incorporates mapping out the cyber-incident response structures, capabilities and technology know-how.

This cooperation involves expanded information exchange between law enforcement and cybercrime experts and more detailed input involving cyber-crime investigations.


Earlier, the Commonwealth opened the Canberra industry-led Cyber  Security Growth Centre under its Innovation and Science Package. The funding package assigns $30 million through to 2019-20 to grow and strengthen Australia’s cyber-security industry. Support is available for businesses that operate online to deliver their products and services in a secure environment.

This funding is the first in a series of initiatives delivered under the Government’s Cyber-Security Strategy. This year, the administration plans to release a more detailed cyber-security roadmap outlining practical initiatives to promote security in the online and globally-connected space.


Recently, Greg Austin, a fellow and visiting professor at the Australian Centre for Cyber Security (ACCS) at UNSW Canberra, warned that at present Australia is almost defenceless against cyber-attacks.

The need for better cyber-security planning extends to every area of the economy, said Austin. Moreover, global financial systems rely increasingly on highly-secure cyber networks and well-protected infrastructure.

Targets like electricity, banking or open government networks are especially vulnerable.  In a decade, several major powers may have the technology nous and skills to totally disable critical infrastructure, in a cyber-warfare setting.

Research by the ACCS indicates that Australian government and civilian organisations are well behind China and the US around cyber-preparedness.

Professor Austin has canvassed a national innovation strategy, as well  as a more clearly-defined blueprint for “cyber-survivability.” This is in the event of a direct military confrontation involving a major power.